Jordan Mickey

And-Ones: Paul, Silver, Canaan, Mickey

Suns guard and NBPA president Chris Paul spoke about the NBA’s ongoing injury problem this postseason, making it clear that every player has the right to make their voice heard about topics discussed with the league throughout the year.

Several key players have dealt with injuries throughout the playoffs, including Paul himself. It’s unclear whether the compressed schedule has played a large role or whether the league has simply experienced bad luck — or a combination of both.

“Man, one thing about our league and its players is everything is always a conversation,” Paul said, as relayed by Dave McMenamin of “There’s a ton of guys on the executive committee who are working hard on things right now, as we speak — day in and day out, traveling. I wish you guys knew all the things that are going on. So, decisions that are made as far as playing or not playing, players are always involved in it.

“Injuries are always unfortunate. You hate to have them. But just like when we went to the bubble, everything was discussed as far as the players and the full body of players. Everything that’s good for this guy and that guy might not be the same for that guy, but everything has always been a conversation, and it’s going to continue to be that way. So, if people don’t like it, then you know everybody has the same opportunity to be a part of all these conversations.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world today:

  • Allowing fans back into arenas helped the NBA with financial losses caused by COVID-19, commissioner Adam Silver said, as relayed by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “We did somewhat better than we initially projected,” said Silver. “We don’t have the exact numbers yet, but maybe we’ll be down roughly a third in revenue, something around there, instead of 40%.”
  • Isaiah Canaan has signed an extension with Unics Kazan in Russia, the team announced (via Twitter). Canaan, a former NBA guard, averaged 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 43 outings with the club last season.
  • Free agent big man Jordan Mickey has signed with Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia, the team announced (Twitter link). Mickey, the No. 33 pick in 2015, holds NBA experience with the Celtics and Heat.

And-Ones: Josh Smith, Draft, Free Agency, Ayon

Josh Smith had an ugly debut in the Big3 last night, writes J.L. Kirven of The Detroit Free Press. Smith was loudly booed by a Detroit crowd that hasn’t forgiven him for his short stay with the Pistons, then got tossed from the game after a skirmish with Royce White.

Smith, 33, is part of a fresh influx of talent in the league, playing his last NBA games during the 2017/18 season. However, Detroit was probably the worst city for him to start on the BIG3’s revolving tour. He lasted just a season and a half there after signing a four-year, $54MM deal in 2013. The Pistons used the stretch provision to unload him, and he won’t come off their payroll until collecting another $5,331,729 next season.

“I enjoyed the intensity and the passion,” Reggie Theus, his BIG3 coach, said after the game. “Obviously he’s got to contain himself …”

 There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:
  • Fewer than half of the underclassmen who entered this year’s NBA draft were selected, prompting Michael Rand and Marcus Fuller of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to examine whether players are benefiting from the current system. Rand contends an expanded G League and the addition of two-way contracts have created more opportunities for undrafted players. Fuller defends the rights of underclassmen to pursue their dreams of playing professionally even if they turn out to be bad decisions.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN takes a look at the 13 teams with cap space, including nine with $20MM or more, that are positioned to make big moves as the free agency sweepstakes kicks off next Sunday. The Nuggets, Magic and Sixers could join that list, but only if they renounce significant free agents.
  • Mexican center Gustavo Ayon is leaving Real Madrid and wants another shot at the NBA, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Ayon, 34, spent time with the Hornets, Magic, Bucks and Hawks, but hasn’t played in the league since the 2013/14 season. “I don’t know if it is a farewell. Today I don’t have any offer,” Ayon said. “I want to go back to the NBA. It is a personal desire.” Jordan Mickey, who played for the Celtics and Heat, may replace Ayon if he leaves, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando.
  • Former Bucks, Pelicans and Jazz guard Nate Wolters has signed with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Carchia reports. He spent this season with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania.

Jordan Mickey To Play In Russia

JULY 27: Mickey’s one-year deal with Khimki is official, the team announced today in a press release.

“Jordan has ambitions and big desire to play at the highest level,” head coach Georgios Bartzokas said in a statement. “I’m sure, we will help him also as well as he will help Khimki to achieve our goals. I wanted to sign him even last year but didn’t have a chance.”

JULY 25: Heat free agent Jordan Mickey appears headed to Russia, according to Nikos Varlas of EuroHoops. Mickey is reportedly close to a deal with Khimki Moscow Region.

The 24-year-old forward appeared in 23 games after signing with Miami prior to the start of last season, averaging 4.0 PPG in about 12 minutes per night. He was a second-round pick by the Celtics in 2015 and spent two seasons in Boston before being waived.

If Mickey finalizes a deal with Khimki, he will likely replace Thomas Robinson, who played five NBA seasons before heading overseas in 2017.

Heat Decline Jordan Mickey’s Team Option

The Heat have elected to turn down Jordan Mickey‘s team option for the 2018/19 season, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The option would have paid Mickey a salary of approximately $1.6MM. Instead, he’ll become a free agent.

Mickey, who was selected 33rd overall in the 2015 draft by the Celtics, signed with the Heat during the 2017 offseason. In his first – and potentially only – season in Miami, the 6’8″ forward averaged 4.0 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 23 games (12.3 MPG). Mickey wasn’t part of the Heat’s rotation down the stretch, appearing in just six games after the All-Star break.

Although Mickey will now be eligible for restricted free agency, I wouldn’t expect the Heat to extend him a qualifying offer, which would be worth more than his team option. He’s more likely to hit the open market on July 1 as an unrestricted free agent.

With Mickey’s option no longer in play, the Heat have 10 players under contract for the 2018/19 season, including nine guaranteed salaries and Rodney McGruder‘s non-guaranteed deal. Mickey will join Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, and Luke Babbitt as Miami’s free-agents-to-be.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Miami Heat

The Heat doubled down on a committee of above-average role players last summer and have leveraged their depth into unexpected success after a dismal 2016. With an elite head coach and an established culture of winning, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have no reason to believe that they can’t continue to field a winner so long as they’re willing to invest in solid players.

The downside of a team built in this fashion, however, is that it lacks the ceiling to be truly dangerous in the postseason and the financial flexibility to change that. Not helping matters, of course, is the fact that the Heat’s highest paid player, Hassan Whiteside, could barely get off the bench in the club’s most recent first-round playoff exit.

The Heat are on pace to cross the luxury tax threshold in 2017/18 thanks to dramatic escalations in the contracts of players like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, making it inevitable that a dramatic roster move is forthcoming.

Is the on-court product good enough to justify the luxury tax expenses? Not likely, so all that’s left is for the franchise decide what direction to go when the dominoes start falling.

Luke Babbitt, SF, 29 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat brought Babbit aboard in a minor deal at the deadline and it wasn’t hard to understand why. The career 40.2% three-point shooter is an attractive niche add and he shot 44.1% on threes through the first half of the season with the Hawks. Unfortunately, he didn’t make enough of a splash in an inconsequential stint with Miami to warrant major interest from the franchise this summer. Babbit will have suitors as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and could end up plucked by a team able to invest slightly more.

Wayne Ellington, SG, 30 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2016"<strong
Ellington represents this Heat roster as well as anybody — he’s a reliable veteran that can consistently get the job done. In the hands of the right coach and surrounded by the right players, that’s invaluable. If the Heat decide to continue pushing to contend in the East, it would make sense to retain Ellington for a few more years as a solid rotation piece. That being said, simply bringing back Ellington is no small feat considering the luxury tax implications of such an investment. If the Heat suspect their window is closing, all parties might be better off if the nine-year vet latches on with another contender elsewhere.

Udonis Haslem, C, 38 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat don’t have to worry about long-time big man Haslem testing the waters anywhere other than South Beach, the question is whether or not the 15-year veteran will opt instead for retirement. Haslem seems to have enough in the tank to continue playing in his drastically reduced role and, despite the luxury tax implications making even a minimum deal painful for ownership, there’s no reason to believe the franchise wouldn’t be happy to have him.

Jordan Mickey, PF, 23 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $5MM deal in 2015
Despite cracking the team’s rotation for a few weeks last December, Mickey didn’t make much of an impact with the Heat during his first season in Miami. One thing that the young big man does have going for him, however, is that his team option is for a modest $1.6MM. At a time when the franchise will be hard-pressed to fill out its 15-man roster without going into tax territory, cheap deals will be of particular interest.

Dwyane Wade, SG, 36 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
After an awkward season and a half with the Bulls and Cavaliers, Wade returned to Miami. Immediately, the franchise icon fell back into a rhythm and outplayed his minimum contract. If the Heat opt to continue competing in the East, bringing Wade back is practically essential – from a marketing point of view as much any. While he’s more than a simply symbolic figure, he’s not quite a leading man either, so a deal in the same vein as Dirk Nowitzki‘s $5MM annual with team options could be a solid starting point. If Wade is willing to sign another minimum contract, that’d be all the better for the cap-strapped Heat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: J. Johnson, Hezonja, G League, Batum

James Johnson may be the latest addition to the Heat’s long list of injured players, writes Ira Winderman of The-Sun Sentinel. Johnson will have an MRI today to determine the extent of a lower-leg issue that forced him to leave Saturday’s game. He is in the midst of another productive season, averaging 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 28 games, and an extended absence would be a significant blow to a team already reeling from injuries.

Miami is without center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed two weeks with a bone bruise on his left knee and won’t join the team for a two-game road trip, along with Justise Winslow [strained knee], Okaro White [foot surgery] and Rodney McGruder [leg surgery]. The injuries have created more playing time for rookie Bam Adebayo and free agent additions Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with J.J. He’s talked to me a lot,” Mickey said. “He’s always said, ‘Eventually your number will get called.’ I’m not happy in this particular position [with Johnson out], but I’ll be ready, Coach needs me and I’m already ready.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Injuries are also creating an opportunity for Magic small forward Mario Hezonja, notes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. With Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and Arron Afflalo all sidelined, Hezonja has started the past three games with uneven results, Robbins notes. The fifth player taken in the 2015 draft, Hezonja may be looking at his last chance to prove himself before unrestricted free agency next summer. Orlando declined to pick up his fourth-year option in October. “You’ve just got to find your own rhythm but still be in the system,” Hezonja said. “If I go out [and try to excel] individually, I’m going to look good, but we’re going to lose. We’re not going to win a lot of games like that. Everybody has to step up like that, has to have that mindset.”
  • The Magic are enjoying the benefits of having a G League affiliate close to home, relays John Denton of The organization moved its affiliate from Erie, Pa., to Lakeland, Fla., over the summer, which is paying off with the recent rash of injuries. Jamel Artis and Adreian Payne were able to attend practice with the Magic Tuesday morning, even though they had a G League game that night, then were available for Wednesday’s NBA contest.
  • Nicolas Batum offered a reminder of why the Hornets gave him a five-year, $120MM contract with with a season-high 23-point performance Saturday, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. For most of this season, Batum has been deferring to other players on offense after returning from a torn ligament in his left elbow that he suffered in the preseason. “I was trying to adjust myself to the other guys way too much,” he said, “when sometimes I have to let them adjust to me.”

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Richardson, Mickey

The Heat handed Kelly Olynyk a four-year, $46MM contract this offseason and one rival Eastern Conference GM is not impressed with the transaction, as he tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“Not a huge fan of Olynyk and think they overpaid by about 20 percent. I have no idea why he got a player option. But basketball wise he’s a good fit,” the anonymous GM told Jackson.

Olynyk’s contract contains a player option worth slightly over $12.2MM for the 2020/21 season. That same GM also offered his opinion on Jordan Mickey, whom the team signed to a two-year contract in August. “End of the bench NBA player [that] can play for 8-10 years in the right system as a shotblocker, rebounder, energy guy,” he said.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Josh Richardson, who inked a four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat this offseason, may have been able to land a larger contract had he held off on signing until he reached the free agent market. However, the 2015 No. 40 overall pick is happy with the deal he signed, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relays. “Let’s be real, $42 million is a lot of money,” Richardson said. “So I can live on that forever. I don’t really worry about what everybody else is doing. I don’t like comparing myself to other people. So when they came to it, it was kind of like a no-brainer.”
  • Hassan Whiteside injured his knee on opening night and the big man’s absence has forced Mickey to take on a starting role. The 6’8″ big man has mostly played the four during his time in the league, but he has no issue playing center when needed for the Heat, as Winderman passes along in a separate piece. “I feel comfortable at whatever position he puts me at, whether he needs me to guard the bigs on the court or guard one of the smaller guys on the court,” Mickey said. “That’s where the NBA is going now, bigger guys guarding small guys. So you’ve got to continue to grow with the game.”
  • The Heat don’t have many scoring options on the wing, making Dion Waiters‘ recovery from an ankle injury even more crucial, Winderman contends in a recent mailbag. Waiters suffered the injury last season and hasn’t been able to suit up yet as a result of it.

Heat Notes: Winslow, Olynyk, Adebayo, Wade

For a team that brought back nearly all its key players over the offseason, the Heat head into training camp with a lot of unanswered questions. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines position battles and several other topics in his latest column:

  • The starting small forward position will be wide open when camp begins Tuesday, with Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder all having a shot at it. The Heat exercised their fourth-year option on Winslow this week as the former first-rounder tries to battle back from a shoulder injury that limited him to 18 games last season. Miami was only 3-12 when he started last year and he wasn’t part of the team’s surge after the All-Star break. Richardson, who received a four-year extension this week, came into the league as a guard, but played 80% of his minutes last season at forward.
  • James Johnson is the favorite to start at power forward, but free agent addition Kelly Olynyk will be an intriguing addition because of his outside shooting. Olynyk shoots .368 from 3-point range for his career, compared to .296 for Johnson, although he raised that number to 34% last season. Olynyk, who was used mainly in a reserve role in Boston, will see plenty of minutes in Miami whether he starts or not.
  • Johnson, Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside will take up most of the center/power forward opportunities, leaving little for first-round pick Bam Adebayo, whom the Heat believe has a bright future. Winslow may also be utilized as a stretch four in small-ball lineups, so Adebayo will need a strong showing in camp to earn playing time.
  • Okaro White and Jordan Mickey are likely to make the roster, with A.J. Hammons holding a slight edge for the 15th spot. However, the Heat have concerns about Hammons’ work ethic and he will be challenged by shooting guard Matt Williams. Former Michigan point guard Derrick Walton has been impressive over the summer, but he has a two-way contract and can’t spend more than 45 days in the NBA.
  • The front office isn’t unanimous in wanting Dwyane Wade back if he agrees to a buyout with the Bulls. There are concerns about his defense at age 35, and the Heat already have five guards who can make a case for playing time.

Heat Notes: Wade, Hammons, Mickey

Dwyane Wade may soon find himself on the free agent market if he and the Bulls can agree to a buyout. It was recently reported that a reunion with the Heat remains a realistic option, as the 35-year-old recently moved his children back to the Miami area.

The Heat appear to already have a starting shooting guard in place after inking Dion Waiters to a four-year, $52MM deal this summer, though the former No. 4 overall pick is open to playing alongside the future Hall of Famer. Waiter previously told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he admires Wade and would like to learn from the experienced veteran.

Miami brought back Waiters along with other pieces from its 2016/17 lottery campaign after failing to land a star in free agency yet again. While Wade can no longer be categorized as a star, adding him to the unit should only help the team to climb higher in the standings. Regardless of whether or not the franchise adds Wade, it has a decent chance of avoiding the lottery this season, as ESPN statistician Kevin Pelton projects Miami to end up with the No. 7 seed in the conference.

As we wait to see where Wade ends up playing, check out some notes from Miami:

  • Assuming the Heat don’t land Wade, A.J. Hammons and Jordan Mickey are the front-runners for the team’s final two roster spots, Jackson writes in a full-length piece. The scribe adds that Matt Williams is a legitimate candidate for one of the spots should the team decide to waive one of its big men.
  • Jackson hears (same piece) that two separate scouts have concerns about Hammons’ maturity level and he identifies one of the scouts as a member of the Mavericks’ staff. Hammons was selected by Dallas in the 2016 draft, though he was traded to the Heat this summer.
  • Larry Drew II, who will go to training camp with the Heat, doesn’t appear to have a realistic chance at making the team, Ira Winderman on the Sun-Sentinel contends. The team currently has 18 invites for camp and with only 15 roster spots and a pair of two-way contracts, the point guard could be the odd man out.

Southeast Notes: Mickey, Walton, Magic, Hawks

The Heat’s decision to sign forward Jordan Mickey on Sunday will not impact their ability to make another roster addition, as Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel points out. Mickey signed a $1.5MM contract for the upcoming season and Miami holds an option on a second year. The Heat were already over the salary cap, so it didn’t eat into any available space. Miami still has its $4.328MM room exception available to fill out the roster.

In other items related to the Southeast Division:

  • Impressive summer-league outings by Derrick Walton convinced the Heat to sign the undrafted point guard to a two-way contract, Winderman reports in a separate story. Walton’s offensive pacing and 3-point shooting while playing for the Magic’s summer team caught Miami’s attention, Winderman notes. “We just had a mutual interest in joining each other and making something work out and when the opportunity presented itself, we both took it,” the former University of Michigan star told Winderman.
  • The Magic have added Adetunji Adedipe to their basketball operations department and also named him the assistant GM of their new G-League team in Lakeland, the team announced via press release. Adedipe has been with the Magic organization for three seasons and served as basketball operations coordinator with the G-League’s Erie BayHawks last year.
  • Atlanta-based Sharecare has reached a five-year deal to become the official jersey patch sponsor of the Hawks, according to Zach Klein of Founded in 2010, Sharecare is a digital health company.